Rum producers from around the region met in Barbados this week to discuss how to promote responsible drinking and to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. The harmful use of alcohol has been recognised as a contributing factor to Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and in recognition, the industry set up at task force in 2018 to see how best the industry could support the efforts of the regulatory agencies and health sector to encourage responsible drinking as part of a balanced lifestyle.
Coming out of that meeting they have announced a major initiative to introduce new labels in domestic and regional markets that contain visual guides against drinking and driving, underage consumption and drinking during pregnancy, all areas of concern both for producers and for the health sector.
Announced by Raphael Grisoni, the Managing Director for Mount Gay Distilleries and the Barbados Director for the West Indies Rum & Spirits Producers’ Association (WIRSPA), the new provisions will also provide responsible drinking messages and calorie per serving information to assist consumers in making the right choices about how they drink.
In addition to the regional initiative on labelling, the producers also announced the adoption of a new code of practice for the advertising and marketing of their products. This comprehensive revamp of their existing 10-year-old code sees major new guidance on the responsible use of social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram that correspond to international best practice.
“It gives me great pleasure to make this announcement” said Mr. Grisoni. “We have worked hard over the past year to achieve these commitments, which, while already in place for some companies, will see an across-the-board upgrade in the way we communicate these issues to consumers.” He added, “We are also intensifying our collaboration with other producers and distributors of alcoholic beverages and hope these initiatives can be adopted by the entire sector, as this is the only way we will achieve the full impact.”
Commenting on the initiative, Chairman of WIRSPA and head of the Guyana conglomerate Demerara Distillers, Mr. Komal Samaroo, stated “As indigenous brands firmly rooted in the communities in which we serve, we have a responsibility to do the best we can in ensuring persons consume our products responsibly. This initiative goes some way towards that.” He further added, “As we work to implement these commitments over the next 24 months, we hope that we can continue to work in partnership with our governments to reduce harmful drinking and its impact on society.”